Now I must admit that when she first told me about it, I wasn't too enthused. Something about the words "china doll cafe" brought to mind images of reclusive people silently consuming coffee while shrouded in shadows and surrounded by creepy porcelain dolls with long hair... You know, the kind of stuff horror movies are made of.
Luckily, Mustoy cafe in Hongdae was nothing like that. Much to my surprise, it turned out to be a lovely, cozy (and brightly-lit) place where you get to decorate cute, bubbly-shaped porcelain dolls (not the creepy kind) in any way you please. That's right.. Sip on a drink while unleashing your inner artist. What could be cooler than that?
The owner of the cafe, a very friendly and cheerful little lady, greeted us with plenty of enthusiasm and explained (in English!) the different options we had to choose from: a male or female doll, cat-shaped doll, or others that were more functional, like salt and pepper shakers or pen holders, with prices ranging from 15,000 won to 20,000 won. (The price also includes a drink of your choice.)
In the end, Wendy and I chose to go with a male and female doll. We were presented with a whole basket of supplies that had everything we needed -- oodles of coloured marker pens, tissues, and cotton buds for dipping in alcohol to erase any mistakes -- and away we went!
If you're indecisive and fickle like me (I have a tendency to change my mind like a chameleon changes colours), then it might take you a while to come up with how you want to decorate your doll. Luckily though, there are plenty of previously decorated ones lining the shelves to give you inspiration.
Pretty awesome, eh?
Unfortunately, my creative and artistic skills are rather lacking, and I'm quite craptacular when it comes to thinking up my own designs. So instead, I decided to go the "safe" route of blatantly plagiarising one of my all time favourite animes, Fruits Basket. Can you guess which character he is? XD
Left: mine, right: Wendy's.. Check out the nifty detailing on hers!
There's something oddly therapeutic and very enjoyable about sitting down and doodling on your own doll, and we soon found ourselves lost in deep concentration. After we'd finished, our dolls were wrapped up very carefully in bubble-wrap and popped into nifty little boxes for us to take home.
I didn't know it at the time, but according to their website, there are actually several Mustoy locations in Seoul and around Korea: http://mustoy.com/mustoy-cafe/
Definitely worth a visit if there's one near you! :D
Hours: 11:30am - 9:30pm, closed Mondays
Address: 서울시 마포구 서교동 344-6 (Kaliope Building, 344-6 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul)
Directions: From Hongdae Station, exit 9, take the first left and follow the road all the way around the corner until you reach a split in the road. Once you reach the split, go left and head up the hill. Mustoy will be on your right.